25 new cases of COVID-19 announced in Manitoba Thursday
Now 218 active cases in the province
Twenty-five new cases of COVID-19 were announced in Manitoba on Thursday, bringing the total number of active cases in the province to 218.
Of the new cases, 12 are in the Prairie Mountain Health region, six are in the Southern Health region, and seven are in Winnipeg.
Most of the new cases in Prairie Mountain, which includes the city of Brandon, appear to be close contacts of previously known cases, Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Brent Roussin said at a Thursday afternoon COVID-19 update.
A spokesperson for Maple Leaf Foods said earlier Thursday that a total of 31 people who work at the company's pork processing facility in Brandon have now tested positive for the illness.
Roussin said that as of Wednesday, there were 67 known COVID-19 cases linked to a cluster in Brandon, with 26 linked to what he referred to only as a business in the city. He did not name the business.
The current five-day test positivity rate is now at 1.19 per cent, Roussin said.
The new cases announced Thursday include five children under the age of 10, four of whom are in Winnipeg, and one in the Prairie Mountain Health region.
The new cases bring the total since the start of the pandemic to 603. Of those, 377 people have recovered from COVID-19.
Seven people are currently in hospital with the illness caused by the novel coronavirus, including three in intensive care. The number of deaths related to COVID-19 in the province remains at eight.
The province's online COVID-19 dashboard has also now been updated to show more details on where cases have been identified, Roussin said.
The location of cases will be broken down into 68 different districts in Manitoba: 13 in the Prairie Mountain Health region, 24 in the Southern Health region, 14 in the Interlake-Eastern region and 15 in the Northern region, plus the "Winnipeg Urban" district.
An additional 1,817 tests were completed Wednesday, bringing the number of tests completed since early February to 108,211.
Roussin asked people who don't have symptoms, and haven't been directed to get a COVID-19 test by health care providers, not to go for a test, as testing sites are strained right now.
"Testing without symptoms puts undue stress on the testing system right now, and we know that the value of a negative test in a person without symptoms is low," he said.
"So we really want to focus our efforts on symptomatic individuals or those individuals who have been directed by health-care providers to be tested."
80 active cases in Brandon
As of Thursday, the Prairie Mountain Health region had the highest number of active cases among the province's five health regions, with 93. That includes 80 active cases in Brandon alone, the province's COVID-19 dashboard shows.
Janet Riley, a spokesperson for Maple Leaf Foods, told CBC on Thursday the company has been doing everything it can to keep workers at its Brandon facility safe, and that there remains no evidence of that COVID-19 is spreading within the plant.
Riley said workers have their temperature checked when they arrive, and have to wear a mask and personal protective equipment and practise physical distancing within the plant.
"We feel very confident in the safety of the workplace and public health and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency," she said.
The company is also partnering with the City of Brandon to donate thousands of masks to residents, she said. On Thursday afternoon, she said 500,000 masks were en route to the city.
"We have many employees living there and we know that it's important that we do everything we can to get this under control," she said.
Meanwhile, the City of Brandon announced Thursday one of its employees has tested positive for COVID-19. It said the case is the first within the city's workforce of approximately 625 full- and part-time staff.
In a media release, the city said the affected employee works in the sanitation department and has had no contact with the public since Aug. 4. The employee last worked at the Eastview landfill on Aug. 7, became symptomatic the following day, and has been in self-isolation since then, the city said.
The Eastview landfill remains open, but its administration office will be closed until further notice to allow for thorough sanitizing of all impacted areas, according to the city's release. Staff who may have worked with the affected employee are being asked to self-monitor for symptoms.
WATCH | Full news conference on COVID-19 | August 13, 2020: